My editorial this week ended with a coda praising Ayaan Hirsi Ali and, in effect, daring Hillary Clinton to stand up for someone who, as the savagery of Boko Haram has reminded us, has been so right about Islamist terror. As we were closing the magazine Thursday, one of my colleagues commented, apropos my editorial, that it would be interesting to hear from Ayaan Hirsi Ali about the latest developments.Sure enough, Friday's Wall Street Journal featured a terrific op-ed by Hirsi Ali. She argued that, "Far from being an aberration among Islamist terror groups, as some observers suggest, Boko Haram in its goals and methods is in fact all too representative," and that "It is time for Western liberals to wake up....The kidnapping of these schoolgirls is not an isolated tragedy; their fate reflects a new wave of jihadism that extends far beyond Nigeria..." Read the whole thing, as they say.
And read Mark Steyn's brilliant piece from Saturday which makes similar arguments to those in my editorial, but with Steynian brio and panache. The article features a witty and punchy headline, one that had actually occurred to a few of us in the officeThursday as a possibility for my editorial, but which we'd (perhaps foolishly) rejected as probably not appropriate for a family-friendly magazine.
In any case, here are the first few paragraphs of Steyn's powerful polemic:
It is hard not to have total contempt for a political culture that thinks the picture at right is a useful contribution to rescuing 276 schoolgirls kidnapped by jihadist savages in Nigeria. Yet some pajama boy at the White House evidently felt getting the First Lady to pose with this week's Hashtag of Western Impotence would reflect well upon the Administration. The horrible thing is they may be right: Michelle showed she cared - on social media! - and that's all that matters, isn't it?
Just as the last floppo hashtag, #WeStandWithUkraine, didn't actually involve standing with Ukraine, so #BringBackOurGirls doesn't require bringing back our girls. There are only a half-dozen special forces around the planet capable of doing that without getting most or all of the hostages killed: the British, the French, the Americans, Israelis, Germans, Aussies, maybe a couple of others. So, unless something of that nature is being lined up, those schoolgirls are headed into slavery, and the wretched pleading passivity of Mrs Obama's hashtag is just a form of moral preening.
But then what isn't? The blogger Daniel Payne wrote this week that "modern liberalism, at its core, is an ideology of talking, not doing". He was musing on a press release for some or other "Day of Action" that is, as usual, a day of inaction:
Diverse grassroots groups are organizing and participating in events such as walks, rallies and concerts and calling on government to reduce climate pollution, transition off fossil fuels and commit to a clean energy future.
It's that easy! You go to a concert and someone "calls on government" to do something, and the world gets fixed.
There's something slightly weird about taking a hashtag—which on the Internet at least has a functional purpose—and getting a big black felt marker and writing it on a piece of cardboard and holding it up, as if somehow the comforting props of social media can be extended beyond the computer and out into the real world. Maybe the talismanic hashtag never required a computer in the first place. Maybe way back during the Don Pacifico showdown all Lord Palmerston had to do was tell the Greeks #BringBackOurJew.
Do read the whole thing.
And then reflect on this: On Saturday Michelle Obama, standing in for her husband, delivered the weekly presidential address from the White House. Mrs. Obama managed to explain the events in Nigeria this way:
"This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education—grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls."
Needless to say, Boko Haram has also been happy to snuff out boys seeking a Western education, Christians wanting to practice their religion, or fellow Muslims who don't share a belief in violent jihad. But of course you'd never know that from Mrs. Obama. In fact, if you listened to Mrs. Obama you'd have no idea of the nature of the terrorist group we're dealing with, because Mrs. Obama never mentions the word Islam, Islamic, Islamist, or any variant. Her remarks actually epitomize the political correctness that Hirsi Ali warns about, and that prevents us from seeing clearly and dealing resolutely with the phenomenon at hand. Indeed, Mrs. Obama's obfuscation was almost enough to lead me to commit the political heresy of quoting Winston Churchill's 1899 passage from The River War. But I have restrained myself.